On The Municipal Front (1970)

Category: Historical Reprints.
Source: Straight Talk! The Official Bulletin Of The Edmund Burke Society.
Editor: F. Paul Fromm
Associate Editor: Jeff Goodall
Writers: E.B.S. members and friends
Directors: The Council of the E.B.S.
Volume III, Number 1, September 1970

The Edmund Burke Society is a conservative organization unaffiliated with any political party. We are dedicated to the principles of individual freedom and responsibility, free enterprise, and firm ACTION against all tyrannies, especially Communism and all its manifestations in Canada and abroad.

The E.B.S. is financed mainly through small donations from generous Canadians. Straight Talk! is produced by voluntary labour.

On The Municipal Front

By George Spelvin

With all the publicity given to leftist activities in the streets of major North American cities, such as student riots and mass demonstrations, very few people realize that there is an equally dangerous situation right in their own neighbourhood.

This situation has been developing practically unnoticed for several years under the guise of “citizen participation” in urban affairs. In view of the possibility of many citizens finding themselves the victims of arbitrary acts of expropriation by various government agencies, it became necessary for people to unite in order to preserve their homes. Often, the official action taken turned out to be simply a great big bureaucratic blunder, but this was no consolation to the citizen who was forced to move, often at great financial loss.

To further complicate the matter, there are about 2,000 different agencies in Ontario which have the right to expropriate, among them school boards, Universities, and even the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Since there was no appeal from the final decision of any of these agencies, many of wihch were completely irresponsible, the people concerned naturally banded together for mutual protection. Under the old Expropriation Act, the compensation paid was determined entirely at the discretion of the expropriator, and usually on 30 days’ notice. This state of affairs presented the leftists with a ready-made situation which they were not slow to exploit. After all, what could be more respectable than fighting for the cause of the “little man”, who was being unjustly evicted from the home he had bought and paid for, and in many cases, fought for?

It should be noted that the Ontario Government, last year, passed a new Expropriation Act, which has brought a great measure of order, justice and fair compensation to those unfortunate enough to have their property expropriated.

Leninist Infiltration

However, with the rapid growth of the city since the war, there has been a proliferation of “committees” and “associations” on the neighbourhood level, the majority of whihc were originally formed by people of good will and with just cause.

The leftwing element saw the golden opportunity to join an existing organization which had a respectable front and, at the opportune moment, to take it over. It is usually a much simpler matter to take over an existing group than it is to go out and form a new one. There is no question but that the leftists worked diligently behind the scenes, making full use of the emotional issue in each case which had the support of the local citizens, but all the while gathering strength until they were in control. They were unconsciously assisted, in many cases, by the citizens themselves, the majority of whom are hardworking people with very little time to spare for political activity and often, even less inclination.

The leftists, on the other hand, had all the inclination in the world, and usually plenty of time as well. Usually, they were in positions where they could take time off at no financial loss (e.g., University professors, CBC employees, and, in a few cases, outright welfare recipients). Thus these pepole were available to go to City Hall with requests, and, since the average industrial worker would have to forfeit a day’s pay to participate in such a deputation, he was happy to let someone else do this chore. Thus, the leftists, always available, were able to create the myth that they were indispensable and were able to emerge as the “popular leaders of the people”.

Now that the precedent of citizen participation has been firmly established, the leftists are coming right out and forming their own groups. In many cases, these groups have been financed by public money. One of the most notable is the Praxis Corporation, whose founding members include Stephen Clarkson, unsuccessful candidate for Mayor, and Jane Jacobs, author of DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES, and Howard Buchbinder, a former professor of social work, now employed full time.

Both Buchbinder and Miss Jacobs are Americans. Miss Jacobs is also now an “expert consultant” to the Provincial Government in connection with the proposed Waterfront Scheme (at $60.00 a day?). She was also the organizer of the “Stop Spadina” campaign. The Praxis Corp. occupies a house at 373 Huron St. which is owned and apparently loaned to the Corporation by the University of Toronto. Praxis is a registered corporation with the avowed aim of taking over our society and moulding it to the Socialist pattern. Alderman Karl Jaffary, who was prominent at the demonstration outside the US Consultate last May 9th, wearing beads, is a legal adviser and organizer for the Corporation.

Housed in the same building and under the wing of the Praxis Corp. are the Stop Spadina Committee, the Just Society, a Union of the Poor, the Metro Tenants Association, and sundry other radical groups.

The premises at 373 Huron St. is a fairly large house that until recently was owned by a church, before being taken over by the University. It is a hive of activity. It contains a great deal of obviously expensive office equipment, mimeograph machines, etc., used in publishing several newspapers and carloads of radical leaflets. Some of its personnel are full-time and obviously well fed, so the poor old taxpayer might be pardoned for asking, “Where does all the money come from?”.

A Visit to a Small “Revolution”

John Mooney, in a policy statement issued by the Just Society, said,

“Our goal is to bring about a radical change in political, social, and economic attitudes”;


“To start on a small part of Toronto, probably Ward 7, and knock on doors until (we) have enough supporters to start a small revolution — (we) are not sure exactly what kind.”

Support comes from about 80 professionals, mostly “social workers”, teachers, and journalists, who are associate members of the Just Society, which, all told, has only about 400 members.

The effect of this radical campaign of infiltration was clearly seen at the last annual meeting of the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto. Whatever it may have been at its inception, the SPC could now be accurately called the “Socialist Planning Council”, or worse. Even that was not far enough left for the radical element and at the last general meeting, a group of ragged radicals, spearheaded by the well-dressed Buchbinder, reduced the meeting to chaos. Apparently they had all joined on paying a $2.00 fee just prior to the general meeting and there can be no doubt but that this was an organized effort, not just a spontaneous development. With such slogans as “Poor Power!” and “People Power!”, etc., there can be no doubt as to their neo-communist mentality.

All this was reported in the press at the time, of course. SPC is extremely active in a great many local leftist activities. In February last, they sponsored a meeting at Woodgreen Community Center at which the star speaker was Alan Borovoy, of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. The major themes of his talk were “Social Change: Revolution or Evolution?” and “Citizens Groups are increasingly demanding Equality and Power”. His address consisted mainly of advice on how to beat the Government, outwit the police, and make the authorities look foolish. All that was missing from the meeting was a bust of Stalin and the Red flag.

Recently, SPC conducted a study of the Don area for which it received $37,500.00 in Government funds. Whether or not the money was well spent, the reader must judge for himself: apparently, a gang of students were engaged as interviewers, and, out of a population of about 55,000 in the area, they managed to interview fewer than 150 persons, mostly the dregs of society around Allen Gardens and its environs. From this, they prepared a voluminous report which could be condensed down to a few pages of hard facts that were already the common knowledge of homeowners of average intelligence. Nice work, if you can get it!

A more recent activity of the Social(ist) Planning Council is the sponsorship of a new “group” in the Don district, consisting of a handfull of social workers and apparent welfare recipients who expect to have a voice in planning the area, power to veto any type of residential construction failing to meet their approval, and, in general, to boost themselves into a position of authority so far in excess of their degree of intelligence or technical ability as to be laughable, were it not so serious.

It is extremely doubtful if many of them could do an honest day’s work in any field. So far, this Committee calls itself the Don District Housing Committee, and consists of ten or twelve members. However, the joke turns a little sour when one learns that this radical group has had the nerve to apply to Mr. Andras, the federal Minister of Housing, for a grant of $104,000.00 to cover its expenses for the next three years. That’s right, one hundred and four thousand dollars, and they stand a good chance of getting it, too, considering the kind of government presently in power in Ottawa.

This was the subject of a strong protest to the Mayor and Executive Council on September 9th last by a Property Owners Association which appears to have been much concerned for the taxpayer’s dollar (which is most unusual these days). Of course, the press chose to ignore the whole thing. The Don District Housing Committee is scheduled to meet on September 29th at Central Neighbourhood House, 349 Sherbourne St. at 8 p.m.  Should be interesting! The Social Planning Council is mainly financed by the United Appeal. Last year, it received $332,758.00 from the UA for its “good work”; its payroll last year, however, came to $289,449.00. It should be remembered that the UA has a regular staff of about sixty persons. If the average salary paid is computed somewhere between ten and twenty thousand dollars a year, then its payroll would run to something like three quarters of a million dollars. There are, of course, many other organizations hanging on to the coat tails of the UA, most of them with paid staff. It would appear that “charity” is the best racket since Prohibition.

Several volumes could be written on this theme, but the moral is that EBS members should make themselves aware of the trend of events by joining suspect organizations, attending meetings, particularly meetings of the City and Metro Councils. A mine of information may be gleaned from the City of Toronto Executive meetings every Wednesday in Committee Room #4 at the City Hall.

Another “must” for those interested in stemming the Red tide is the local “neighbourhood committee” meetings. These committees are springing up like mushrooms in virtually every corner of the city, and, in many cases, are used as clubs over the heads of local politicians.

Unfortunately, the responsible people seem to be totally unaware of what is going on, and disinclined to take the trouble to find out. Nature abhors a vacuum, and as the Right moves back, the Left will certainly move into the breach. There is hardly a neighbourhood group in the city that is not dominated or infiltrated by the Left. All decent citizens owe it to themselves and to their country to find out, and the only way to do this is to participate.

According to the TELEGRAM (September 11), a certain “citizens group” headed by Margaret Campbell, recent unsuccessful candidate for the Mayoralty, is breathlessly awaiting the arrival of a grant of $180,000.00 to study the residents in the Kensington area. This group has been at loggerheads with every level of government it has managed to confront. Anyway, dear old taxpayer, the wheel that has squeaked for so long is about to get a heavy load of grease, and at your expense. It is scarcely conceivable that Margaret Campbell will donate her time for free:  it has been rumoured that when this group got its grease, it would appoint a head at about $27,000.00 per annum. This squandering of the taxpayer’s money must stop, and stop now! Not only does it constitute an ever-increasing financial drain, but, to add insult to injury, the taxpayer’s own money is being used to drive him to the wall!

The Gray Flannel Fabians

It is easy now to trace the radical line from the top right down to the lower echelons; by far the most dangerous elements are not the howling wierdos in the street outside the US Consulate, but the well-dressed, suave, soft-spoken manipulators at the top.

Space will not permit the story of the Regents Park group and the $84,000.00 they received, and rumours of another try at the taxpayer’s pocket, to be gone into here at this time. Nor can we now go into the matter of the East Don Coalition and its grant of $14,000.00 from City Council earlier this year, all of wihch is now gone. This group has already had “confrontations” with municipal politicians in order to exact a promise of a further $15,000.00 grant this fall. At some future date, perhaps, we shall ba able to report on these matters.

In the meantime, about all that conscientious citizens can do is to go to all the meetings possible, both local and at City Hall, and quietly gather all the information possible. It may then be possible to organize concerned taxpayers to combat this disease.

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